California Residents Convicted of Marijuana-Related Offenses May Be Able to Clear Their Records
In November of 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, the law that permits the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Most people know that sales of marijuana to individuals over age 21 from licensed dispensaries will begin on January 1, 2018. What many don’t know is that the law also includes provisions which can reduce the impact of a prior conviction for a marijuana-related offense. Read on to learn how you might benefit from Proposition 64’s re-designation of marijuana-related crimes.
Across the country, more and more states are passing laws that allow people convicted of pot-related crimes to reduce their sentence or expunge those crimes from their records. Proposition 64 includes a similar provision which allows people convicted of crimes related to marijuana—even serious felonies—to apply for a reduction of their sentences or for the convictions to be cleared from their records entirely.
According to Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, about 500,000 people have been arrested in California for marijuana offenses over the past decade. About 1,000,000 Californians may be eligible to have a conviction on their record reduced or thrown out entirely.
“We worked to help create a legalized and regulated process for legal marijuana, but we also wanted to make sure we could help — some way, somehow — repair the damages of marijuana prohibition,” Hernandez explained.
The portion of the law that allows for the reduction or expungement of marijuana-related crimes entered into effect immediately after Proposition 64 was passed. As of September of 2017, at least 4,500 people have applied to have their sentence expunged, reduced, or re-designated as lesser crimes, despite the fact that the state has done little to publicize this law. Some cities were so eager to get those with marijuana-related offenses out of their jails that they notified people recently convicted of marijuana crimes of their eligibility for sentence reduction or expungement.
Those with marijuana crimes on their records must complete an application and argue before a California judge as to why the crime should be reduced or removed from their record. If the judge determines that the applicant has maintained a clean record since the pot-related conviction and has steered clear of any major felonies, the court can reduce the offense to align with what someone might be convicted of under the new law. For example, if someone were convicted of possession of less than an ounce of pot, that crime could be thrown out entirely, as possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is no longer a crime under state law. Those with potentially eligible convictions should contact a criminal defense attorney to begin the process of applying for a reduction or expungement.
If you believe you may be eligible to have convictions cleared from your record or are facing criminal charges in Southern California, get help defending your rights by contacting the aggressive and effective Ventura criminal defense attorney Paul Tyler at 805-889-9000.